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Do Native American casinos have lower paybacks?

18 June 2007

I have been reading your comments and questions answered for some time now and haven't seen anyone ask this as of yet.

While playing at the local Indian casino, the machine next to me was down for repairs. As the technician rebooted the machine, a screen came up and revealed the payback setting as "92". How does a payback of 92 compare with Vegas casinos? Should I be looking for a different casino in which to wager?

The machine as a nickle Reel-em-in game with the subtitle "Cast for Cash". When I asked the technician if all the games in the casino were at the same payback ratio, he looked as if he was going to get fired for letting me even see the screen.

Thanks for the great information that we enjoy so much!

Dave

Dear Dave,

Thanks for the kind words about my columns.

Nickel slot paybacks in Las Vegas are around 90%, so your casino is giving you a pretty good payback for a nickel machine. I think the paybacks on video slots should be higher because many players are risking similar amounts per spin as dollar reel-spinning players.

As for the technician's look after you had seen the screen, I think all casinos should have to publish slot paybacks by denomination so players could know what they're up against.

Even state lotteries, which are usually terrible gambles, publish all the odds of their games.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I do not trust the Indian casinos because they never divulge their slot payouts. I also almost never win. I am aware they do not have to report payouts. Do you believe these casinos actually pay out as much as reporting casinos or are they taking advantage of the situation? Also do you think they will ever have to report slot payouts?

Thanks.

I don't know the ins and outs of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, but I suppose that as long as the casino has only Class II games, for which it doesn't need a compact with the state, it doesn't have to report paybacks to the public. When the state is involved and getting its share of the slot revenue, the state could publish the paybacks.

The Indian casinos are definitely taking advantage of the situation, but maybe not the situation you implied. Paybacks at Indian casinos may be lower than those at major gaming centers, but it's not because the casinos don't report their paybacks. I think it's because they don't have as much competition.

The few Native American casinos that I've been to have all been miles from the highway and an hour or more from the nearest competitor. In Atlantic City, Las Vegas and Tunica, the competition is at most a few miles away and, in many cases, within walking distance.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots